Dean Rebuts Rumors of IBM’s Future

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(Host) Governor Howard Dean says IBM has not made a final decision concerning layoffs at its Essex Junction facility. And Dean says he believes IBM will stay in Vermont.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) The governor talked with senior IBM officials as rumors about the future of the plant continued to swirl around Vermont. Those rumors include massive layoffs at the Essex Junction plant and the possible sale of the facility to an international corporation.

Governor Howard Dean says he learned several important things during his discussion with IBM officials on Thursday afternoon. Dean told reporters at an impromptu press conference just outside the House chamber that he feels it’s clear that IBM is not leaving Vermont:

(Dean) "In my opinion, based on our conversation, this plant and this division have always been at the heart of what IBM does and will remain at the heart of what IBM does. Secondly, as the chairman said, there will be undoubtedly some adjustments. They do not know what the plan for adjustments is right now – they have to come up with a plan."

(Kinzel) Dean says he cannot reveal the details of his confidential conversation with IBM but the governor says some of the wild rumors that have circulated about the company are not true:

(Dean) "This not the kind of catastrophe or crisis that we may have been led to believe because we keep feeding on each other’s rumors. There are facts out there. Not all the facts are known but the facts that are known, I think, are news that the worst of these rumors are very likely to be completely untrue."

(Kinzel) Dean says IBM officials told him that there’s no timetable to determine how the Vermont plant will be affected by the company’s national reorganization plan. The governor did say that the IBM experience has convinced him to initiate some new programs to enhance small business opportunities throughout Vermont:

(Dean) "Because big companies are not necessarily bound to America anymore and we have to understand they’re citizens of the world now. But to give our economy the kind of underpinning it needs to have and the kind of stability it needs to have, we do need to pay much more attention to the small businesspeople who are going to be here for the duration."

(Kinzel) Dean says he’ll unveil some new programs for the state’s small business community in several weeks.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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